By rising vote the Boosters decided which was the handsomest and which the ugliest guest, and to each of them was given a bunch of carnations, donated, President Gunch noted, by Brother Booster H. G. Yeager, the Jennifer Avenue florist.
Each week, in rotation, four Boosters were privileged to obtain the pleasures of generosity and of publicity by donating goods or services to four fellow-members, chosen by lot. There was laughter, this week, when it was announced that one of the contributors was Barnabas Joy, the undertaker. Everybody whispered, “I can think of a coupla good guys to be buried if his donation is a free funeral!”
Through all these diversions the Boosters were lunching on chicken croquettes, peas, fried potatoes, coffee, apple pie, and American cheese. Gunch did not lump the speeches. Presently he called on the visiting secretary of the Zenith Rotary Club, a rival organization. The secretary had the distinction of possessing State Motor Car License Number 5.
The Rotary secretary laughingly admitted that wherever he drove in the state so low a number created a sensation, and “though it was pretty nice to have the honor, yet traffic cops remembered it only too darn well, and sometimes he didn’t know but what he’d almost as soon have just plain B56,876 or something like that. Only let any doggone Booster try to get Number 5 away from a live Rotarian next year, and watch the fur fly! And if they’d permit him, he’d wind up by calling for a cheer for the Boosters and Rotarians and the Kiwanis all together!”
Babbitt sighed to Professor Pumphrey, “Be pretty nice to have as low a number as that! Everybody ’d say, ‘He must be an important guy!’ Wonder how he got it? I’ll bet he wined and dined the superintendent of the Motor License Bureau to a fare-you-well!”
Then Chum Frink addressed them:
“Some of you may feel that it’s out of place here to talk on a strictly highbrow and artistic subject, but I want to come out flatfooted and ask you boys to O.K. the proposition of a Symphony Orchestra for Zenith. Now, where a lot of you make your mistake is in assuming that if you don’t like classical music and all that junk, you ought to oppose it. Now, I want to confess that, though I’m a literary guy by profession, I don’t care a rap for all this long-haired music. I’d rather listen to a good jazz band any time than to some piece by Beethoven that hasn’t any more tune to it than a bunch of fighting cats, and you couldn’t whistle it to save your life! But that isn’t the point. Culture has become as necessary an adornment and advertisement for a city to-day as pavements or bank-clearances. It’s Culture, in theaters and art-galleries and so on, that brings thousands of visitors to New York every year and, to be frank, for all our splendid attainments we haven’t yet got the Culture of a New York or Chicago or Boston—or at least we don’t get the credit for it. The thing to do then, as a live bunch of go-getters, is to capitalize culture; to go right out and grab it.